Organic milk won't save Vermont dairy farmers
Editor of the Reformer:
In 2009, when the farm-gate milk price was about $12 a hundredweight versus production costs of about $18, an Agri-Mark dairy cooperative senior vice president told the Vermont Farmers' Forum for Dairy Farm Survival that dairy farmers could raise the farm-gate milk price to $22 a hundredweight by cutting milk production about three percent: culling three among a hundred milkers.
When the market is signalling dairy farmers to produce less milk to raise the farm-gate price, they instead produce more milk to maintain their cash flows, knowing that more among them will be forced out of business: predatory competition.
To keep on milking, smaller dairy farms spend their family savings to subsidize themselves for as long as they can.
Larger dairy farms, too big to fail, are carried by their lenders to prevent bankruptcy.
Organic dairying is not Vermont dairy farmers' salvation: Upscale demand limits this market; production costs are higher; surplus sold as conventional milk sacrifices profits.
Howard Fairman, Putney, Sept. 10